In many countries monkeys are seen as vermin and farmers and land owners shoot entire troops down to try and rid the areas of these beautiful animals. In January this year I was lucky enough to have the chance to go out and work with one of the first recognised monkey rehabilitation centres in the world - Riverside Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in South Africa. The centre is run by Bob and Lynne Venter who have dedicated their lives to saving and rehabilitating wildlife, and the work they do is truly inspirational!
I spent 2 weeks volunteering for them with a small group of others, and during my time there I learnt so much about monkeys! It was an amazing experience but also very sad. I was there during baby season which meant there was a high number of orphaned vervet monkeys and baboons coming into the centre. Orphans are often found when whole troops have been killed but the babies have survived by clinging onto their mothers stomachs. They are often discovered alone and starving, struggling for life while their whole family lies dead around them. At Riverside, the orphans are cared for 24/7, with regular bottle feeding and also a lot of playtime - just as their monkey mothers would treat them in the wild!
I really miss spending time with the young monkeys - as they get older and move through the rehabilitation process they have less and less human contact in order to prepare them for their eventual release back into the wild. I really hope to go back to Riverside one day and see how my babies Jane and Riley have grown, along with all the other cheeky monkeys I met on my trip!
Here are some photos of my time with Riverside...
If you'd like more info on Riverside visit their website here!
Watch my video showing the highlights of volunteering with monkeys in South Africa...